Brazilian berry grows in popularity

Sarah Komisky

Discovered by the ancients of the Amazon, the acai [asa’i] berry has launched itself into the 21st century as one of the most healthy fruits to date. Commonly used as a juice, in a smoothie, or eaten with fresh strawberries, bananas, and granola (called an acai Rio Bowl) this food reaps many benefits to those who eat it.

“[Acai] has the highest antioxidant properties and contains omega fiber,” Sarah Bobna, manager of Mother’s Market deli and juice bar said. “It also has a sustainable harvest and is environmental friendly.”

Mothers Market, a popular health food store, was one of the first juice bars in the county to sell acai, but the fruit didn’t achieve popular status until two years ago.

“We probably make 20 something smoothies plus Rio Bowls that people get to go in a day,” Bobna said. “When we were out of it one time, people were flipping out. It was like it was some sort of medicine.”

Jessica Lee, 20, liberal studies, has been shopping at Mothers Market for a year and buys acai on a weekly basis. She stumbled upon the fruit by the recommendation of a friend.

“I saw it on the menu and I thought that it might be good,” Lee said. “I also noticed that they had it in packages in the store where you could make your own.”

Acai’s popularity has now propelled markets such as Albertsons to start selling acai with the “Naked” smoothie line. Fresh Squeeze, Jamba Juice, and Juice Stop are now offering acai Smoothies and bowls. This past summer, Saddleback College jumped on the bandwagon and began selling acai juice.

“I decided to start selling acai because it was just something that they offered,” said Vince Lu, manger of Saddleback’s cafeteria. “Sales are okay. People who know about it will buy it.”

This nutritious berry is organic but not just for the vegan or vegeterian.

“I like recommending it for people who have to go on a diet or want to eat healthy because acai is sweet and it tastes good.” Bobna said. “People also get it for their kids.”

According to the book, “Acai: An Extraordinary Antioxidant-Rich Palm Fruit” by Dr. Alexander G. Schauss, Acai has ten vitamins which include Vitamin A, C, E, B-1, and B-12 as well as essential amino acids, minerals, and trace elements.

According to www.acaitools.com, acai also helps the immune system, circulatory conditions, heart disease, cancer, prostate enlargement, regulates cholesterol levels, helps your body detox, improves sleep and mental focus, slows the aging process, and helps energy deficiencies. “Acai does make me feel good after I eat it. I have more energy,” Lee said. “It’s light and fills you up like sushi.”

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